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Mount Boppy View the Map

Mount Boppy probably has the record for the shortest tenure of a tracker in NSW.  A small gold-mining settlement 50 kilometres east of Cobar in Ngiyampaa country, a tracker was based at Mount Boppy for only the month of January 1904.  Known only as Jack, he had previously served as the tracker at Cobar and then moved on to Mount Drysdale (60km to the north-west) after his time at Mount Boppy came to an end.  Gold was discovered at Mount Boppy in 1898.  It is unclear what role Jack played in January 1904.  There were no reported crimes or missing people for that month.  Perhaps he helped protect gold shipments that were leaving the mine.[ref]Police Salary Register 1904 – Trackers SARANSW 1/16337, Reel 1971; McQueen, Ken  2005.  “The Mount Boppy Gold Mine.”  Journal of Australian Mining History.  Vol. 3.[/ref]

An Aboriginal man with a close association to Mount Boppy was Steve Shaw. Born at Coronga Peak near Bourke in the mid-1800s, Shaw grew to be a ceremonial leader, playing an important role at an initiation ceremony at Bulgeraga Creek in the Macquarie Marshes in 1898.  He later moved to Brewarrina Aboriginal Station where he was an informant for Radcliffe-Brown, anthropologist, about aspects of Ngiyampaa culture and language.  He passed away at Brewarrina in 1924.  Shaw did not work as a tracker, but would have had the skills to do so if the opportunity arose.[ref]Death Certificate of Steve Shaw – 1924/003731; Miller, S. Sharing a Wailwan Story. Sydney: Powerhouse Museum, 1999; A.R. Radliffe-Brown Notebook E2, University of Sydney Archives P129.1/7.[/ref]

NSW Aboriginal Trackers

This website explores the history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW from 1862 when the current NSW Police Force was established through to 1973 when the last tracker, Norman Walford, retired.  You can read about the lives of individual trackers and some of the incredible tracking feats they...

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Police Stations

There were over 200 NSW police stations that employed Aboriginal trackers between 1862 and 1973.  Many were concentrated in the central-west and north-west of the state, the agricultural and pastoral heartland of NSW.  This is because one of the main jobs of trackers was to pursue sheep, cattle and horse thieves. Trackers sometimes lived in small huts out the back...

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A General History

Pathfinders book Pathfinders, A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW, written by Dr Michael Bennett and published by NewSouth, is now available from all good bookstores. Click on the link below to order your copy. https://www.abbeys.com.au/book/pathfinders-a-history-of-aboriginal-trackers-in-nsw.do Early History Since the beginning of the colony, government agencies, explorers, surveyors and members of the general public called upon the tracking...

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